The holidays can be a great time to relax, reflect, and make plans for the upcoming year.  Or, if you are a restaurant owner with an entrepreneurial streak, the holidays can be the perfect time to throw a party at your eatery and earn a little extra holiday cash.  There are a few different categories of holiday parties that you can host at your restaurant, each with the potential to help you earn while spreading the holiday cheer.  Here is a look at three different broad types of holidays, and tips for throwing each one.

Partner Holiday Party

With this type of holiday, you offer your restaurant up as the venue for a holiday partner thrown by a partner organization.  For example, many companies would rather hold their annual holiday party at your restaurant than the office.  This type of partner holiday party can earn you a decent amount of money, especially if you sell catering services as well and provide the food and drinks as well as the venue.

To throw a party like this, you will first and foremost need a corporate or organizational partner interested in renting out your restaurant for their festivities.  If you know that one of your usual patrons owns their own company or is in a leadership position in a larger form, try floating the idea for a partnered holiday party in person if you are comfortable doing so.  Additionally, you can reach out to your email lists with special offers to hold discounted holiday parties, and see who is interested.

Fundraising Holiday Party

As with any fundraising event, a fundraising based holiday party at your restaurant won’t earn you the biggest profits.  But you can draw in customers during a time of year when getting business at all is hard, use the fundraising event as an opportunity to promote your restaurant and boost your exposure, and build some great organizational relationships that might benefit you in the future.

To throw a fundraising event, first look for a nearby community-based nonprofit to help keep the fundraising drive feeling local.  Ask their permission to hold a holiday fundraiser (and they will of course say yes) and see how your two organizations can work together.  Then, devote a day to holding your fundraising holiday party at your restaurant, contributing a portion of your profits to the group you are working with.  You can even use the opportunity to try out new menu options, solicit feedback from the community about other events they would like to see, and generally spread the word about your restaurant.

Independent Holiday Party

If you have a large and devoted regular customer base, there’s no reason why you can’t throw a community holiday party of your own to celebrate the people that make your restaurant special.  Focus on appreciating your customers and employees, and try to be as generous as you can by lowering prices, giving out freebies, and getting in the spirit of giving.  Use this type of independent holiday event to build up your email lists, promote your restaurant, and build up goodwill in the community.

You can start promoting an independent holiday event by hanging promotional flyers and signs around your restaurant, and even handing out “invites” with every bill you pass out.  Then, start blasting your email lists and reaching out to social media as the date of your event approaches.  Make sure to emphasize that your customers who are interested should RSVP, and make sure that you make it clear if there will be an entry fee or food fee for your festivities, so your favorite customers don’t get taken by surprise.

Preparing for Your Holiday Party

If you truly love the holidays and want to spread the spirit throughout the community that your restaurant is a part of, there are a lot of ways to do so.  Start with the three different party ideas above, and think of your own ways to spread holiday cheer while hopefully either making a profit or gaining some exposure for your business.  Whatever ideas you pursue, just make sure that you keep the spirit of the holidays front and center, and don’t give your regular customers the impression that you are taking advantage of the season.

From there, the most important thing to keep in mind is that every little preparation is going to matter a lot.  You can’t just “wing” a good holiday party, even if you own the venue.  The sooner that you start making preparations, sending out invites, and putting a plan in place for the perfect holiday party, the better your event will go.  It can be hard to get people into your restaurant during the holidays, but if your customers do come together, the feelings of community and the burgeoning holiday spirit that a good holiday party can produce are irreplaceable.